Today’s readings explain how God, like a Good Shepherd, redeems His people and provides for them. They also challenge us to use our God-given authority in the family, in the Church and in society, with fidelity and responsibility. Today “pastoral” ministry includes not only the pastoral care given by those named or ordained as “pastors” but the loving service given by many others who follow different callings to serve and lead others.
In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah (sixth century B.C.), thunders against Israel’s careless leaders – the king, some priests and some court prophets – because they have shown no concern for the poor. The prophet also foretells the rise of a good, new shepherd in the family line of David. Then he consoles the Israelites enslaved in Babylon, by assuring them that God will lead them back to their original pasture in Israel. Today’s Good Shepherd Psalm (Ps 23) affirms David’s Faith and trust in God, the “Good Shepherd.”
The second reading introduces Jesus as the shepherd of both Jews and Gentiles and explains how Jesus, the good shepherd, reconciled all of us with His Father by offering himself on the cross. Paul also speaks about another reconciliation, that between the Jews and the Gentiles, brought about by Jesus who accepted both into the same Christian brotherhood. The reading from the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the good shepherd fulfilling God’s promise given through his prophet Jeremiah in the first reading. Here we see Jesus attending to his weary apostles, who have just returned from their first preaching mission, while at the same time expressing his concern for the people who, like “sheep without a shepherd,” have gathered to meet him in the wilderness.